Diablo 3 Patch 13 Skill and Rune Changes

Here’s Jay Wilson’s full article, plus the new screenshots. We’ll be posting analysis and discussion of these changes later on, once we’ve had time to absorb the big changes.

Last August we held a Diablo III press tour, and it was with a small group of fansites that I first revealed significant changes were still in store for the rune system. Since then, we’ve been hard at work on the rune and skill systems, and today we’d like to share details on the changes you’ll see in Beta patch 13. We’re confident that these changes will make Diablo III a better game, and to help illustrate why, I’ll start with a high-level explanation of our goals for these systems as well as the feedback we were responding to in making these changes.

I’ll start with the skill system. Our high-level goal with this system has always been to give players a great degree of power to customize their characters. We believe we accomplished that early on by abolishing skill trees and moving toward an open-ended system where skills, rune variants, and passives are chosen at-will by the player in a flexible customization system.

That goal and the system have been great successes, but the amount of customization we have available doesn’t mean anything if it’s not useful in combat situations. Combat depth is another one of our goals; Diablo III is designed to be a modern action game, built on the mantra of “easy to learn, difficult to master.” What that means for the player is picking a set of skills and abilities that work together, and then executing them in ways that lead to success: the wholesale slaughter of the demonic invasion. With that combat-depth goal in mind, we’ve been internally categorizing the skills since the inception of the system. Many of you could probably identify what these categories were if we asked, and some players have even mapped out what they are fairly accurately.

For every class we essentially created three common types of abilities, and then a handful of class-specific ability types. All classes have skills that fit into categories we call Primary Attack, Secondary Attack, and Defensive. Primary Attack skills are frequently used abilities that typically generate resources. Secondary Attacks are more powerful attacks that are limited in use through resource cost or cooldown. Defensive abilities are used to escape or control the flow of combat. Beyond that, classes have unique categories, like armor spells for the wizard or mantras for the monk. We used this methodology to help us design the classes and their skills, but we weren’t exposing this to the player despite the fact that these categories would give the player, like they did our own team, a better understanding of how the classes work.

Click through to see the rest of Jay’s article.

One of our other goals is to ensure our game controls and interfaces are easy to use so that players spend their time trying to master game mechanics rather than fighting an interface. Giving players complete freedom to choose “anything” with no direction as to how our systems are intended to work was a failure in our design. There was also a detached relationship between the bottom-bar UI and the skill system. We have six skill slots, and six spots to put skills, but the two interfaces didn’t really interact, and stocking abilities in your interface felt awkward.

To fix these issues, we focused on two core changes: (1) exposing the skill design intent by categorizing the skills and (2) linking skill selection directly to the bottom-bar UI to make assigning skills a clearer process. When viewing the skill screen, you’ll be presented with your six skill selection slots; each of these correspond directly to your bottom bar, and each will provide a specific list of skills from which to choose. By providing a clear-cut guide on how to best maximize your build potential, we hope to cover that “easy to learn” half of the mantra.

You may already be fuming because you’re a “difficult to master” type of person, but before you run to the forums, we have you covered. In the Gameplay options, we’ve added an ‘Elective Mode’ for the skill system. With this checkbox ticked you’ll be able to place any skill in any skill slot, as freely as you could before. The Elective Mode option is available at any time with no requirements or need to unlock it. We hope the new, more guided interface will give you an in-game heads up as to the intent of each skill — and maybe even be the way you play through the game in Normal — but if you eventually have a build that simply can’t be accomplished the way we’ve laid things out, you’re free to pop on Elective Mode and take the skills you want.

While the skill system is largely unchanged save for some UI improvements and the helpful new (but optional) skill categories, we’ve been working to make some rather intense changes to the runestone system. Before we get too far, it’s probably best to clarify our terms: First, they’re now called skill runes, and they’re called skill runes because they’re no longer a physical item, but built directly into the skill system. Let’s back up, though, and go through some of the problems we were encountering and how this final design is intended to resolve those issues.

Our goal with the rune system has always been to provide additional character customization by allowing players to augment or completely alter their skills in new and significant ways. Originally, we tied this in to the itemization system because it felt like a good fit, as Diablo is all about the item drops. But with around 120 base skills, that meant there were around 600 rune variants; on top of that, each variant had five quality levels each, meaning ultimately there would be something like 3,000 different runes in the game… and we knew we were heading toward a problem.

Diablo is certainly about the items, but later in the game, having to juggle all of those various runes was not only un-fun, it was a serious and tedious inventory problem. We went through a number of different iterations, some of which we fully implemented and tested, to try to solve these fundamental issues while still keeping the customization intact. Ultimately we developed, implemented, and have been playing and testing a new system which we’re confident hits all of the desired mechanics and solves all of the related issues – and that’s what I’m going to talk about today and what you’ll see in Beta patch 13.

With the new skill rune system, you’ll be unlocking new skills as you level up just like you always have… but in addition you’ll also be unlocking skill runes. Now, when you open the skill window, you’ll choose which skills you want in which slots, the skill rune variants you’d like, and your passives. All of this is done directly through the UI, and all of the options from the skill, skill rune, and passive systems are unlocked through character leveling progression, leading to a cleaner overall integration of these systems. Just as we set different skills to unlock at specific levels, skill rune choices unlock at different levels as well.

Another thing we strive for in our games is “concentrated coolness,” and while rune quality levels made sense when we were attempting to itemize them throughout the game, they make far less sense as runes are unlocked through the UI. We didn’t want to get back into a situation where you’re clicking a button to pump points into skills. It’s far more concentrated (and cool) when your rune choices have a single and powerful benefit to your skill choice. The new skill rune system does not have ranks, and we’ve instead made each around the equivalent to what the rank 4 or 5 rune was previously. One click, you make your rune choice, and you get an explosive benefit to that skill. That feels a lot cooler.

Runes have been by far the biggest design hurdle we’ve had in the game, and as you know we’ve been continually iterating on them. We fully expect that some of you will be disappointed that runes won’t be part of the itemization system. Internally, it took us a long time to let go of that notion too and stop trying to force them into being items, and instead embrace the intent of the system. Integrating runes with the skill system directly gave us a bunch of great benefits, and even without runes we’re launching with more item types than Diablo II had. We knew we were making the right choice by letting go of runes as items and focusing on the core objective of the system: to customize your skills in awesome ways.

Before I wrap up, I did want to cover that one of the added benefits of the new system is that you’ll be unlocking something every level all the way up to the level cap (60). Now, with each level you’ll unlock at least one new skill or rune, and in most cases you’ll be unlocking three or four. The most immediately exciting part of that system is that skill runes begin unlocking at level 6, which means that players in the beta test will finally be able to play around with some rune variants.

Phew. Well, there you have it — the new skill and rune systems! We strongly believe that these changes are going to make for a better Diablo III, and we’re looking forward to you trying it out in patch 13, which should be live any minute now (if it isn’t already). As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on your experiences with these changes. To help center the conversation on these changes to a single location, we’re going to lock comments on this blog and encourage you to post in a thread we’re specifically making to discuss this: Skill and Rune Changes Discussion.

Thanks for reading.

Jay Wilson is Game Director for Diablo III and won first place in the team’s chili cook-off competition. Recipe available upon request.


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  1. First time I seriously considering cancelling my CE preorder.
    Can’t believe this fing bs. Will be just like wow with gear being the only difference between characters and progression at max level (where you spend most of the time) will be really fing lacklustre.
    Whoever makes these terrible decisions deserves to be burned.

    • How does this reduce choice or differentiation at all at max level?

      • Indeed, the skill part is purely UI and the rune part is just “cutting the middle man” so to speak. Sure, some may have hoped for something better than the current system, but complaining that it got worse doesn’t make much sense.

        • Hi
          Fast for You. Before, You Could input obsidian rune in fireball skill, then it could make prefix for example, rolled to ? “obsidian fireball +5 HP” so it act like always, but add for you supper bonus. That little “bonus” could be reason to farm runes, even in End Game, just for +1 here or there. For me it is more customization.

          Now we have less than before.

          • false, that was a system they talked about in the fansite interview, but was never EVER the official system… rune stones were  a serious inventory management issue, there just simply isn’t enough inv space for the 100’s of combinations of skill runes, let alone if you had affixes on them as well.

          • @Fromtheshad
            That’s more reason to item hunt, not more rune customization… there is a limit to how much you can stretch the meaning of a word – this is an upgrade / loot hunting feature, not a customization feature. You’re trying to make it sound like Blizz. removed features/player choices when all they did was remove some loot/made item hunting slightly less interesting

      • It reduces customization while you get to lvl 60.
        At this point we might as well just start our chars at lvl 60 and Inferno.
        Normal, NM, Hell is looking more linear than a rail shooter.

        • That’s assuming we won’t get + to skill rune gear… which we might not unless they intend on having modifiers read “+1 / +30% damage to all Man Kneeling With Stick rune skills”

        • No, it doesn’t reduce customization entirely. It reduces the TIMEFRAME to reach MAX customization.
          Here is what you’re actually angry about (from Jay, above): “We fully expect that some of you will be disappointed that runes won’t be part of the itemization system.”
          I’m angry too. Having runes as items was so freaking cool — finding SKILLS as ITEMS. However, that created an INVENTORY MANAGEMENT NIGHTMARE that had to be solved, or we would all shelf the game once our stash was full of kick ass runes we wouldn’t be able to part with.
          Douglas: (“How does this reduce choice or differentiation at all at max level?”)
          It reduces choice because runes are no longer items, and thus DO NOT CARRY AFFIXES. Otherwise, there is NO CHANGE EXCEPT UN-DEADENING THE 30-60 “DEADZONE” giving meaningful progression all the way to 60 that’s not based on chance (i.e. rune drops & their random affix rolls).
          Sorry for all the CAPS. I felt I needed to seriously emphasize certain points since most people just don’t “get it”

      • How? Isn’t it obvious?

        Just look at the new monk’s skill tab. Before if I wanted to make a full offensive monk (in example) I could, but now I’m forced to have one defensive skill in my hotbar, so a large number os possible skill builds just got purged from the game.

        • Apparently you missed the part about “Elective Mode.”

        • Ha your a ‘lazybones’ who dont read fully before you jump in.
          Its only in noob friendly mode that its lock in that way. Here the relevant text for you.
          ” In the Gameplay options, we’ve added an ‘Elective Mode’ for the skill system. With this checkbox ticked you’ll be able to place any skill in any skill slot, as freely as you could before. The Elective Mode option is available at any time with no requirements or need to unlock it.”

      • What a big change…. It only means noobs don’t need to worry about finding those runes and what to do with them. Everyone will have access to all runes in the end. From my point of view this is less customization. Didn’t even mention with the previous system, you could have all runes regardless of character level.

        And devs were giving hints about complete overhaul all along.

        BTW lets call it here. This rune system is nothing more than a skill rank in most of RPGs now. Old one was too nothing new but it was a less used system. Current system’s difference from known skill rank systems is, there will be Skill Rank 1, Skill Rank2a, Skill Rank2b,  SkillRank2c etc. instead of Skill Rank 1, Skill Rank 2, Skill Rank 3, Skill Rank 4 in other games.

        • I equate the new rune system to being the same as having all the suits/weapons in Super Metroid, or all the songs/weapons/etc. in Ocarina of Time. They’re just part of basic game progression and not direct choice.
          The real benefit of this classic, even arcade-like, progression system is that you can choose what you enjoy the most at the time rather than being restricted to what you’ve “locked in”. No doubt, this strays from classic RPG design and I’m a bit disappointed in the direction it’s going, but I personally think we’ll be surprised and it will be fun as hell come release. Diablo has always been an action game + endless item hunt disguised as an RPG. Skill trees isn’t what made Diablo successful (see: Diablo I).

    • Ya, because there is only 6 skills for each class and one rune effect for each of those 6 skills. 

      I actually like the changes, though I have hesitations about the runes being equivalent to rank5’ish and I wish some info was included on whether items will have rune affixes to further solidify whatever build you are going for. 

    • That’s funny, because when the rune system was first announced, all you would have to do is collect 1 rank 7 rune of each type and you were pretty much finished. I like this much better tbh, and it helps prevent the level 31-60 “deadzone” which many have been complaining about for months.
      Now if only they could get charms back into the game…… 😥

      • Just like I was hoping would happen.  I felt that the runes would be a perfect deadzone relief.   I still wish there was some way to “specialize” when you reached 60 that would kind of beef your selected skills, and give each character a bit of an identity.

      • 31-60 deadzone is un-deadened by rune unlocks now.
        While the original system seems like it makes sense, it still doesn’t. It still creates a huge inventory management problem. Sure, if you have rank 1-7 of each rune, you’re “finished”, but what if you want 2 indigo runes, 3 alabasters, and 1 golden? Better stock up on those alabasters… so, as you can see, you’d be far from “finished”. Ideally, you’d have a 6 rank 7 runes of each type, in case you wanted to go all Indigo. So, 6 runes * 5 types = 30 runes. Also, ideally, you’d have access to these 30 runes for each character. Assuming you had a full account, you’d have 300 runes. If you compound this with the (silly) attuning system, the number of runes you’d want to have available would be astronomical.
        Regardless, I still think it sucks how they weren’t able to somehow keep runes as items. See this from Jay, above: “We fully expect that some of you will be disappointed that runes won’t be part of the itemization system.”
        So there ya go.

    • Not only burned, his soul should be sent to hell. I thought the tooltip simplification was the peak of Blizzard’s stupidity with this policy of helping noobs, but now they went further, players are too stupid to choose their own skills now.
      Good lord Blizzard. Stop trolling us!

      • Once again… Learn to read: “You may already be fuming because you’re a “difficult to master” type of person, but before you run to the forums, we have you covered. In the Gameplay options, we’ve added an ‘Elective Mode’ for the skill system. With this checkbox ticked you’ll be able to place any skill in any skill slot, as freely as you could before. The Elective Mode option is available at any time with no requirements or need to unlock it.”

  2. Such great news – solves the boredom of leveling with no results, the inventory management of 500 runes, reassures us that the release date IS getting closer….and gives an excuse to play through the beta a few more times!
    Happy happy joy joy anyone?

    • No kidding. I don’t see why people would be upset over this.
      The only difference is that they aren’t items anymore, really. Nothing else has really changed at all with runes since they announced them.

      • Except now instead of getting to use the build we wanted at level 30 we might be waiting till 60. All runes are balanced equally so why must we wait to use some of them? Was really looking forward to playing Nightmare and up with my chosen builds.

      • Well, the original implementation was no doubt broken. Clearly inventory management would be a huge issue.
        The part that makes me angry is how they’ve taken this VERY INTERESTING concept of FINDING skill modifiers as ITEMS to simple UNLOCKS. Now, it’s not innovative or new. It’s cookie cutter. Over a decade of work to stamp out just another cookie? Yeah, I’m angry.

        • Innovative or new? Sacred did it (skill modifiers as items) first, some years ago.

          • Yep sacred had all skill level up as randomized rune drops, said runes added +1 level to skill when you found them. It also had trade in runes for other runes, with what you get back depending on how many runes you spent on the new one (from 2 for completely random to 4? for pick a rune).

    • 500 runes? Gross over-exaggeration. They removed runes through the laziness of not being able to come up with an alternate solution, and removing them completely revoked all sense of accomplishment and character empowerment from getting them as well as taking them out of the economy completely. Retarded Acti-decision (TM)

      • The blue post itself says effectively 600 types of runes, and then when you throw in 5 ranks you get 3,000.

        This is because they were moving to a model where it was no longer Crimson Rune, but it would be Crimson Rune of Hydra or Obsidian Rune of Hydra, eg there would be 5 types of runes per skill. 

        • This is because they were moving to a model where it was no longer Crimson Rune, but it would be Crimson Rune of Hydra or Obsidian Rune of Hydra, eg there would be 5 types of runes per skill. 
          Right, which as they discovered was a completely pointless and idiotic way to do it. I don’t really have a major issue with the way they’re doing it now, but justifying it as a “solution” to the 3000 rune “problem” is extremely misleading. That was a problem of their own creation and that was never in need of a solution other than simply scrapping a dumb idea and returning to the original plan.

      • Yep, character progression suddenly got a whole lot less satisfying.
        Great for those casuals though I guess, which seems to be Blizzard’s target segment these days.

        • I see, so they remove the supposed 30-60 deadzone everyone was complaining about and now everything is worse.

          Amazing logic.

          • For the record everyone wasn’t complaining about it. D2 had exactly as much a “deadzone” as D3 would’ve had, yet people didn’t seem to have a problem.

          • @Delvin
            Yet someone is always going to be upset no matter what. It’s funny really.

            I realize not everyone complained about the 30-60 thing, it’s just funny to see it in front of you so plainly.  

  3. Very nice. Do want to see the runes in beta for sure. The rune \oomph\ i get is a little less pronounced with these rune graphics (no onyx/crimson/etc) but I’ll likely get used to it. 

  4. Not very happy to be honest. The idea of finding that rune-stone in the battlefield that you were striving for to get that one customization you really wanted just seemed so much more awesome to me. It was a way for us to be a bit more unique. In the old system not all lv50 Barbs would have the same rune-stones. Now they will all have the same skill runes available to them … bleh

    • I’ll agree that the idea of it is much more appealing, but the problems arising from rank 1-7 runes of all different kinds filling up inventory space etc. and attempting to find the runes you want for your build would certainly be a pain, especially if the desired runes were only being placed on the RMAH.
      I certainly hope further rune customization will be available via gear affixes. 

      • the other big issue I have is that I”m forced to take a particular rune at particular levels. I’d much rather have it so that I’m granted the ability to unlock a rune, and I can pick which rune.

        • If that were the case, everyone would take all of the runes they “wanted” first and we’d end up with a huge levelling deadzone of unlocking useless runes.

        • I expect you will unlock runes like this you reach lvl X you now got  all the rank 1 runes for Hydra unlocked etc. Well if there’s any extra bonuses say “rank 1 crimson rune of extra damage” etc (unlikely I know) these will unlock between the rune ranks.

      • Good point on the RMAH… Blizz is actually gimping the profit potential of the RMAH with non-item, non-grindy runes. Imagine that!

    • At the start that might have had some effect, but let’s not be delusional, runes would’ve been the first thing to saturate and to devolve into almost pure crafting materials. The other alternatives of either making runes extremely rare or giving them randomised stat-like bonuses apparently did not pass testing (for more or less obvious reasons).
      Your issue makes sense in a single player RPG where every character starts from scratch in all aspects. In that environment it would not matter to you whether all other players of that game had caches full of useless runes, you would still need to discover them for yourself, but that’s certainly not how D3 is going to work.

  5. i don’t care
    release the game already

  6. Blizzard didn`t stop removing stuff and at this time they removed one of the most important customization thing! RUNE RANKS!

    • Rune ranks wasn’t customization….. Rank 7 was the best period. That isn’t customization brother…. lol
      The only thing this system does is clear up our inventory and makes leveling 1-60 a lot more interesting. Runes would’ve been a hassle and would’ve ended up as scrap material for crafting a couple months after release.

      • How on earth could you get both of those things backwards? When I’m inserting a rune into my character, one that I found (let’s say level 5), I am customizing my character. If I just click something, I feel pathetic and weak, and I have accomplished nothing that anyone else couldn’t accomplish at my level.

        When I grind for hours to get that ultra-rare level 7 (Blizzard said they would be very rare) off of some random champion mobs in endgame Inferno with 3 other people I feel even more customized, knowing few people even have anything close to “my power” and that all that effort paid off.

        Inventory problems could be solved with a simple Mystic mechanic similar to salvaging and another rune-enhancement Mystic mechanic similar to the late Enchantress. “Clearing up inventory problems” is already a PR term to begin with because inventory management is an essnetial part of any RPG, and god forbid the player have to actually make an important decision.

        And the last thing you said, making level 1-60 more exciting, is just… wow.

        • “If I just click something, I feel pathetic and weak, and I have accomplished nothing that anyone else couldn’t accomplish at my level.”

          Do you feel the same when you click on a piece of gear to put it on, or when you clicked on a little red + to allocate a skill or stat point?
          Do you feel pathetic and weak when you click on a monster when it dies? I don’t get it.

        • Weak, straw-grasping argument…

      • Ranks were stupid anyway. The skill calc on the website always used the highest rank rune (5 btw) and honestly the stats weren’t blow-you-over-amazing in a lot of cases. So they would have been even lamer at rank 1-2.

  7. outraging diablo fanboiis, i like how all outrage 😛 so, i ll go play beta patch 13 as soon as servers are up again, lalalala

  8. So how are the skills runes different from passive skills now?

    • Skill runes effect your active skills? Passive skills work passively?

      • Skill runes also work passively?. You just click it and the skill rune is set for that skill. For passive skills, you just click it and you always benefit from it. I liked when runes were a drop as that made it distinguishable from passive skills but now that skill runes are gained by levels I feel like they aren’t that distinct from passive skills. I mean looking at some of the passive skills, some of them also affect active skills. Take for instance: http://www.diablowiki.net/Inspiring_Presence  

        • Your example makes no sense – Inspiring Presence increases the length of ALL of a Barbarian’s shouts and adds life regeneration to those shouts.

          I still don’t see your point – yes skill runes effect skills passively but they only affect a single skill at a time.

          • First of all, to clear the air, I’m not saying the new system is horribly flawed by any means. It has its pro’s and cons as stated in multiple posts before and after. I think it’s an improvement over the previous way.

            Second of all, I would like to respectfully summarize my counter to your previous post: 

            Skill runes effect your active skills? Passive skills work passively?


            Passive skills also affect active skills. Skill runes also work passively. (Just wanted to make sure you understood me on that sorry if you did). Hence why I pointed out the Inspiring Presence to disprove “passive skills work passively?”

            Anyway, my beef with this latest change is that these skill runes are basically passive skills now.  Nothing really “rune” about it now. Ok runes affect one skill. So passive skill for an active skill, something everybody can get and try with the click of a button (at the appropriate level of course). Being one of the bigger features in diablo 3, it seems kind of disappointing that they had to fall back to this plan and settle with something that they already had. But meh, if it gets them to release-dateville so be it i guess 🙂

          • @lolwut

            I understand your position, but I still say that passive skills are much more broad and can create much more synergy with a particular set of active skills.

            Yes, skill runes are like passive skills for your active skills, yet they augment a single skill at a time and they also change how a particular skill works. 

            So in one sense skill runes are passives that only target a single ability, while passive skills target multitudes of abilities or none at all.

            So passive skills are still different enough from skill runes to be a completely seperate system.

            Anyways, I hope they announce the release date too.     

  9. Well, what is the reason of playing inferno then? We won’t be looking for better runes after level 60 which will be hit at the end of Hell, so what’s the point?
    Inferno needs to be really fantastic to be worth anything…
    But then again, it’s still better than Diablo 2.
    Though that may not be enough.

  10. stop the whining, girls, still better than diablo2!

  11. I understand the reasoning for the change, but one option they could have gone with is making the runes consumable. The effect of using the rune would simply increase the level of a rune effect on a single skill. This would pretty much solve the inventory problem and still let the player make some decisions about what skills they want to upgrade. I think Azzure suggested the same thing on one of the podcasts. Looks like his prediction for the new system was pretty much dead on.

  12. you know what they could add to this system is rare scrolls that drop in inferno for skill runes.  So that it wouldn’t be an inventory management issue it could be limited to just the rune color and two different tiers that effectively upgrade your skill rune to rank 6 and 7 since default is 5ish. For example, you could find a tier 1 or tier 2 crimson rune scroll. depending on the tier you can use it to permantly upgrade a crimson skill rune effect to what use to be rank 6 or 7.  That will at least add to customization and the drops could be really rare so they are highly valued. 

  13. That was a lot of words to basically say:
    “Runed skills are awesome, but runes as inventory items had two problems: that’s a lot of junk to carry, and they wouldn’t be valuable to trade. So instead we’re just giving you the runes for free as you level up, each level from 6-60. Now every level matters! And if you’re reading this, enable Elective Mode.”
    It’s not even really that big of a change. Characters will still have all their skill variations by the time Inferno starts. So can the game ship now?

  14. These changes are ‘meh’ imo, don’t really care. I was hoping they had come up with something interesting though.
    “By providing a clear-cut guide on how to best maximize your build potential, we hope to cover that “easy to learn” half of the mantra”
    Why not go the full distance and force a specc on the new players, make experienced players have to hold down alt if they want to use other skills than the default ones.

    Honestly though, how will new players ever become better if they are spoon fed everything? skill experimentation isn’t going to hurt anyone, especially not in normal mode.

    • I don’t think that making peeps better at diablo is a design goal. A game has to be fun, what you do to make it fun for yourself is entirely up to you. Remember GTA SA…for me the fun part of it was the Jet….rest was just a grind. Some people enjoyed running from the cops. It’s all relative man.

      Anyways, dont have the beta but it sounds like a decent system and actually feels like they are not going to try and change it again.

      Sign of release? 

  15. Beta Patch 13 notes are also out:

  16. This removes even more character customization. Before, one could collect/upgrade runestones in order to specialize their character in certain skills. It would give you feel that your character is somewhat unique, based on the skills you chose to focus. Now, the only customization = equipment. Hell, even some of the FPS games have as much customization as this.

    • I will never undestand this position. Permenancy is not the same as customization. You have no idea what you’re saying.

      • Let me illustrate this with an example with cars. Now, I know nothing about cars but I think it gets the point across. A car model is like your character. You can select different options when you buy a car, like diesel engine vs normal engine, air conditioning, leather seats, etc. You can also then further customize it by adding neon headlights, a rear wing, a paint job, etc. All these things make your car unique, custom.

        Now compare that with driving your car with headlights on/off, or windows up/down. It also makes your car look different, but would you call that customization? Of course not, because these things are not permanent, and any other car can open their windows at any point if they wanted to.

        Again, customization requires permanence. Imagine if in D2, you would have a party of paladins playing as hammerdins to clear minions, and then with a few mouse clicks, all become smiters when facing the boss? That is basically what will be in D3, especially with their \everything is based on weapon damage\ \design mantra\ (lol). I’m not saying it’s necessarily bad, maybe it will turn out to be fun still. But what kept many people playing D2 for so long is the fact that to make custom builds, they had to make an entirely new character, level him and gear him up.

        I have a suggestion for Blizzard: You only have one \character\, and you can go into some UI menu and change its class on the fly, in-game?  For example you are fighting a boss and you keep dying as a demonhunter, then you click and POOF you become a barbarian. Because that is the next logical step in this dumbing-down that Blizzard undertook, no? 

    • How would it make you feel more unique? Everyone had access to the same runes you did. You just had to be lucky to find one (which wouldn’t have been hard for ranks 1-4) or just buy one on the AH. That is hardly less accessible than it is now.

    • Huh removes customization no it don’t, look even before customization potential was the same as it is now, all that changed is the lol randomize item drop requirement been removed.
      Secondary runes customization in the old way falls under equipment customization.

  17. Well, are we going to see different-leveled rune effects and stats? Yes or no? This change literally kills customization

    • No… to everything you just said.

      • Jay Wilson is that you?

        of course it kills customization and more importantly in kills individuality i you cant see that then there is  no helping you.

        Runes don’t even exist anymore, they have just introduce a new type of skill. they now have “primary attack” secondary attack” “defensive” and “augmenters”… calling them runes is pure smoke and mirrors.

        at least it should get the game out quicker, all these “ideas” have been tried and tested in other level system games for years. why has it took them so long to release this I don’t know. 

  18. Just for fun, can someone calculate how many possible skill/rune combinations which are left now, if you follow the type-restrictions set by Blizzard (as in 1 primary, 1 secondary etc.).

    • We cant with out knowing what skills fix into each slot for each character class luckily there’s Elective Mode that returns everything back to normal. IE the max is still pick 6 from X ^(5 or 6 if you count no rune) combinations, rune ranks never really counted.

  19. 1) The skill “changes” are just another default to attract a large audience on release and teach noobs the game.

    I was about to rage, because I was thinking “wait, so if I want 2 primary attacks and one secondary, I can’t!?” but then they snuck in the elective version for people that, you know, have half a brain and enjoy playing the role in their role-playing games. The still-disappointing part is that the skill window will still display the categorized names if you’re in uncategorized mode. It may be fixed, but as it stands that’s just an example of Blizzard paying incredible attention to the newer audience and any alternative is cobbled together without aesthetics.

    2) Rune decision seems incredibly lackluster, removing more elements than it fixed. I had ideas that would fix their problems, and I’m sure many others did as well. I expected more from the largest and richest game developer on the planet.

    They aren’t items, so you can’t discover them, or find higher ranks that someone else doesn’t have, and thus feel like you actually created your character. Previously, if you spent hundreds of hours on your character finding high-level runes you were rewarded with high-level runes. Now, all high level characters will have the same runes. That’s the opposite of “cool.” That’s lame.

    Secondly, not being items means they’ve completely removed a huge part of the economy. Runes are a defining feature if not the defining feature of Diablo III, and now there’s no monetary value attached to this gigantic attraction. No more auction house commerce involving runes. If they had taken one of the many suggested approaches to runes, such as a Mystic mechanic to create and breakdown unnecessary runes, they could’ve kept them as items, and kept them as an economic factor and then some.

    Disappointing, really. This seems like the decision that will sadly go out for release, then later be patched and updated because they realize how silly it is. (… Or they don’t. And fail.)

    • Great post, and 100% agree with your thoughts.

    • agreed, the sad part is that they can in fact implement this system and still allow for ranked runes to drop that can effectively upgrade your runes. There are so many different ways people have thought of and I can also think of a few that effectively eliminate the concerns they feel needed to be fixed while allowing customization.  Really if they fail in item customization they killed d3 longevity. I suppose we just have to wait and see how this works. While I like the changes as far as pre-inferno I am left concerned with endgame. 

    • Except that they would have just become little more than salvage fodder after a couple months anyways. I’d reply to your foolishness with a wall of text, but others have already addressed it…

    • I for one like the changes. I found it very annoying to hope for rare rune drops in D2. This system feels quite cool tbh and is simpler.
      I thought the same as you on the commercial value of runes on the AH, but I am convinced for two reasons it wasn’t a big money maker for them. Since runes are not a consumable and are by themselves not very varied (like items), the market will be satisfied for runes after a relatively short while. The other thing, and this may be much more important, is that by having runes a non-commercial items, they can keep on balancing skills and skill/rune combos without people suing Blizz for changing the value of the item they just paid 100€ for, i.e., they can change the skill part of the game continuously without issues.

  20. Sweet!  Now we can all look alike as we level!!  Do not want.

    • D3 turning into FarmVille at the speed of light.

    • Herp a derp? How is that any different than when they were items? You act like the low level runes were going to be hard to find and that people weren’t already going to be able to easily choose what runes they wanted for each skill. Now we don’t have to sacrifice inventory to do the same thing and we have something to look forward to for the 30-60 levels.

  21. Welp, I think that about eliminates any remaining hope I had that Blizzard might actually provide a way to individualize our characters at cap.  We’re given max levels of all skills, max levels of all runes, and given the same stats as every other player.  The only thing left is the item hunt.  That’s absolutely it.  Those items better be mind-blowingly awesome, creative, unique, and build-specific, or there is no way Diablo 3 will have the lasting power of Diablo 2’s decade-long run.

    The free-spec system is being heavily praised, but at the end of the day, freely switching skills around and experimenting with runes is going to lose its luster in a few *weeks* rather than a few years. Is the item search really going to be “awesome” enough to offset that inevitability?

    I feel like Blizzard has sanded the diamond down to a pebble.  I’m a little distraught most of you are so okay with the changes, because it makes me realize how much the gaming community has changed in recent years.

    • Yeah, I personally find it insane how many are praising this change. I guess gamers today want things as simple and instantly gratifying as possible.

      • Which is cool.  There are a lot of games that do offer instant gratification.  God of War, for example.  But God of War is an explosive charge of maybe 10 hours of gameplay — after it’s over, you’re not gonna play it over again ‘just because’.  Maybe once or twice a few years down the road, but most games like that are single playthroughs.

        Blizzard is trying to adopt those modern, “instant gratification” elements, but it just doesn’t mesh with the idea that this is a sequel to a game with unequaled longevity.  If you give the players access to EVERYTHING except the items in one go, the players are going to get bored very fast.  Ironically, by making everything “awesome” in the short term, they make it very un-awesome in the long term.

        That’s my opinion of course, but I want to know how people expect to entertain themselves after hitting Inferno, and already screwing around with every possible rune/skill combination ad nauseum. 

    • I can only speak for myself, but i’m sure my sentiments are shared by some of those that are positive about the changes.  I am under the impression that items will have affixes that affect skills and also runes. If that is the case and they pull it off I feel that the changes will actually work out very well. So while I am sad to see ranked runes go I am under the impression, an impression that could be unfounded or misguided, that they will be making up for that loss in ranked runes customization through items and affixes.  It seems difficult to pull off the more I think about it, but hey I WANT to have hope in something about d3.. sad as it may sound

      • When free-specs were introduced, I said that its success hinged on runestones providing some sort of build commitment or “goal sheet” for players.

        Now that runestones are also freely swappable, I’m going to agree with you and say that their success (and that of skills), highly, HIGHLY depends on build-centric items as well as items with very unique quirks.  We need more reasons to grind at level 60 than just seeing a few numbers grow across the board.  We need a way to create goals for ourselves, such as “collect equipment to max out a Whirlwind-centric Barbarian”, or “find this rare helmet that does <unique, awesome ability>.”  

    • The fact of the matter is, for most people, having to go to great lengths to pull off that experimentation never had any “luster” so yeah…

    • /facepalm, runes in the old style fall under item customization so technically they added a layer of customization to the game.

      As for individuation it still falls to the same value in both systems in old version it happened when you collected the lvl 7 runes for each skill, and let be honset in a short while everyone was going to be able to buy them on AH.

  22. Hopefully in beta patch 14 they will stop calling them “runes”. A rune is a thing. A rune is an item. 

    These are now “skill variants”. They have nothing to do with glyphs carved is stone/wood.

    • Exactly. They should renamed to “clicky things” and upon clicking them should be accompanied with the sad sound of a player accomplishing nothing.

    • This. I’m sad about the changes although at the end of the day it’s gonna be more or less the same as it was, but I liked the runes to be really runes, now there are no runes, only UI options for each skill. They could rename each rune effect as a new skill and let we choose from all those skills and it would be the exact same thing.

    • A rune is a symbol not an item. It could be fun to have the selected runes appearing on the character.

  23. Just one question. WTF are these things still called “skill runes” when they are not items anymore? This is just some sort of skill specialization. I would not expect this form of sloppy design from Blizzard.

    • Hopefully they will fix that.

      I find this a half-improvement so far. I have never been comfortable with “slotting a rune” (which is a thing) into a skill (which is a concept).

      So far, my attempts to slot a hamburger into woodworking have been no more successful than my thoroughly unfruitful project to insert a live West Australian Rock Lobster into trigonometry.

    • Well they are skill specializations represented by what seems to be glyphs carved into little stone pieces like the D2 runes… So it’s like you always have these runes with you and you just have to get powerful enough to be able to activate them.

      • You could think about it that way but being realistic it’s only an UI selection, there’s no need anymore for the runes. I  think they left there the runes because they were already there from the previous system. Creating this new system from scratch would not need the runes at all. They should name it differently now. You won’t distinguish a rune from the other now, mainly because you won’t care at all that it is a rune, you’ll just pick your skill selection from the UI without even noticing it is a “rune” effect.

  24. I suggest that unlocking skill runes be tied to accomplishing achievements ingame. Act1 boss completion, special monster killed, side-quest completion, for example. This allows players to gain a sense of accomplishment that is not solely tied to level rewards and promotes a further exploring.

    • I like that idea a whole lot!  A lot less… Interfacey and UI-centric.

      Kill a boss and “You receive Rune of !” still makes it seem like a tangible thing, even though you never actually get it in your inventory.  You could even pick it up off the ground from their loot pile.

    • +1
      Is that you Dovakin?

    • Tying skill customization to optional goals is a terrible idea… no offense. 😐

      • Agreed. It would function as a hidden form of achievement unlock grind and ultimately achieve nothing as everyone will eventually end up with the same rune skills/achievements anyways, ruining the sense of unique accomplishments. Isn’t attaining a sufficient level to use a different rune skill already an achievement in of itself?

  25. Wow…. I don’t even…. This game just keeps going from bad to worse.  I feel like my wife of 15 years has been caught cheating on me…

  26. They’re streamlining this game too much. Yes, I know it’s much easier having everything ‘come together’ via UI so you don’t have to worry about inventory. The thing is, I like collecting stuff, and I like spending extra time managing my inventory.

    I don’t like the direction Blizzard is heading, this game is looking more and more like a console exclusive everyday. It’s not just the rune system, the simplicity of character selection screen, the auction house UI, auto character stat, removal of chat lobby, all these changes they’ve introduced in the name of ‘fun’ make me feel less and less attached to my character.

    D3 right now feels like those old single player console games, where you just drop in and play for half an hour, without the need to interact with other people. It felt so….lonely.

  27. So… they delayed the game for 6 months for this? I dunno, to me it feels like Blizzard are over-designing this game, release it already, you’re not making any significant progress!

  28. Tried reading to find an answer.. They way i understand it is there is only level of rune now per skill(which will be about level 5 power in the old system)….does that make some skill early on to powerful….and therefore the ones you unlock later…not feel powerful enough.

    Maybe i didnt understand Jays quote but is that correct?

    • One assumes they’ve rebalanced everything commensurately. So you won’t feel OP with a lvl 5 rune when you would have had a lvl 1 before, or feel UP when you’re in act 4/inferno and would have had lvl 7 previously.

  29. I like it. Mostly UI changes while customizability is untouched.

    I also really like the idea of not having an inventory/stash full of Skill runes. This is also very nice. 

  30. “meaning ultimately there would be something like 3,000 different runes in the game… and we knew we were heading toward a problem.”

    What the fuck? How stupid he thinks we are? Sure, there were 3,000 different rune effects in theory, but that never meant 3,000 runes. Where did he invented that crappy argument? Also it wasn’t 3,000 different effects in practical terms because a tier 3 and a tier 1 rune of the same type has the same animation, so all they have to do is change the values skill values granted by each rune, which would be a real problem to code because of the quantity of variables.

    Diablo was always a game of hoarding and I remember how happy everyone was with their first prediction of how many runes and gems players had to find to get all the best gem/runes. Now Blizzard removes this from the game to leave us with nothing. How hard it is to simply let us stack runes/gems of the same type? Problem solved, no stash space problems…

    • Yes it did mean that. With the rune attunement system they were trying, every rune would only effect the skill it was attuned to so you would have a single, unstackable item for every effect for every skill in the game with several ranks.

  31. I don’t like the emphasis they put on action.
    Diablo 3xpac is gonna be a god of war button masher
    Less action more rpg. Dinosaur gamers aren’t dead yet.

  32. “We hope the new, more guided interface will give you an in-game heads up as to the intent of each skill — and maybe even be the way you play through the game in Normal — but if you eventually have a build that simply can’t be accomplished the way we’ve laid things out, you’re free to pop on Elective Mode and take the skills you want.”

    Speaks volumes about who they’re really designing the game for: casual gamers.

    I like that they’ve eliminated the lvl 30-60 dead zone, but with this system, seems like the only thing differentiating players is gear.  Sucks, because good gear is more of a function of time put in and luck, not skill.

    Also, is there any finality to your skill/rune choice?  Or can you switch anytime?  Are the ones that are unlocked at later levels DEFINITELY better/more powerful that previously unlocked ones?   What happens if, say, I want Lightning Hydras as a wizard, the skill and rune for them are unlocked by level 22, when the poison hydras rune unlocks at, say, level 35, is it stupid for me to keep my lightning hydras because they are a “lower level” rune/skill combo?  Does the damage scale up automatically as I level?  If so, then I’m really just unlocking effects?  I’m so confused!

    I might like the old system better, skill level AND effect were tied into one item.  So you could keep the effect and pump up the level/damage as you wished, progressed by increasing quality of that particular rune.  Now, if I’m not mistaken, some skill effects will become obsolete as you progress?  Do I have this right?

    • For some reason they didn’t address the limitations of swapping things out. My guess is they left the swapping cooldown thing for skills but nothing for the runes. I don’t think the ones that unlock later will be more powerful as they are all based on the old rank 4-5 runes. They probably saved the higher damaging, life leech or resource regen ones for later. Who knows, maybe some skills get all of their runes quickly but others get them in a more spread out manner?

  33. I find it funny that so many people are lamenting this change as a hit to variety and that equipment is the only way we will be different. You act like runes were going to be a seldom drop, but they weren’t. Only ranks 5-7 were going to be hard to get. If you wanted to have a rank 4 rune of every color for every skill, it wouldn’t have been hard to do. It just would have taken up a lot of space. People would have all been the same with runes as droppable items too. This shift to the non-item runes changes nothing except that now you won’t have to keep them in your stash and you won’t be seeing tons of rune dust or whatever sitting around the AH.

    • We all agree that inventory management is good idea and works fine with this new skill system. But all in your 15 reply you ignore how important is able to find new ranks (ok drop levels 1-4, give us possibility to find upgrare to skill runes at inferno via scroll). Secondary no more rune economy. Fact is that all chars at 60 will be running around as powerful and makes even less need to roll another wizard or barb.
      In the end they cut longlivety of diablo 3 to half.

  34. So, what will be the point of this game? You’ll gain level and the game will do everything for you. It’s going to be a lot similar to Skill calculator that you can find on web right now…’oh I pick this skill and this rune. Cool.’
    What will be there to do to really distinguish your character from the masses? I mean, everyone will have access to the same skills, same runes, abilities will be automatic for everyone. The only thing making a difference will be items, and we’ve seen how closely they resemble each other. I don’t get the direction this game is going to…

  35. Having just started the beta, I dont like the new interface. For the monk there are 6 different panes so you have no good overview of which skills are avaliable. Its actually pretty bad.

  36. After maybe a half hour of playing the new system, my initial reaction to the change in skill allocation is good. It forces you to work within certain perimeters. It feels like the solution to keeping early game skills relevant into the end game. I like it.

  37. This rune change is a massive disappointment. Customization down from 7 ranks to 1 and same with no effort. This hurts game play below 60, makes inferno easier to all and at max level drops interest greatly when nothing more to make char more powerful than items.

    • No you a lvl 1 crimson rune and a lvl 7 one has the same effect Customization wise due to all that changing is the damage number. Secondary it not like your ever going to use a lvl 1 crimson rune if you got a lvl 7 one.

    • You mean to tell me you were able to play the beta past normal during the deadzone physical runes and after the new patch fixing the deadzone, as well as play Inferno after the difficulty tweaking from rune changes and you found it all lacking? Pics or it didn’t happen…

  38. It might sound odd to some of the complainers, but guys. Hey.
    Hey now. Here is the secret for longevity. Are you listening? Here it comes:
    Not the runes. Not the items. Not the number management. Those are all there to enhance. They are not there to define.
    Diablo II would not have survived that many wannabe-successors and 10 years if the GAMEPLAY was not fun in itself. You can personally prefer other things to do, but at the end of the day – and WoW succesfully proved this – if the GAMEPLAY IS FUN, then you will stick around for YEARS.
    And I do not care whether Inferno might feel DULL without rune drops, when the gameplay will be the most insane in that place. Most active mobs, most difficulty, most complete character on my part (where I have access to all tools, so does the enemies).
    The tool’s modifiers (the skill runes) and the efficiency of the tools (how much more they damage with X and Y items on) are not what is determining the tool itself. The tool (the skill that are used in battle) is what define the gameplay, the other things just enhance it. Not the other way around.

    • Gameplay just have to be good enough, but it is not something that drags player day to day play more. It is character improvement and finding better stuff. When it comes meaningless, people stop playing. They won´t join play diablo cause it is just fun and great gameplay, they join cause they are addicted to something and that something is natural for human. Gathering.

      • Wrong. When something is fun, people will continue to play.
        You are having two very strong assumptions.
        1) Gear improvements are nothing to sneeze at
        2) Fun gameplay alone cant sustain a long-time gameplan
        Both has been proven wrong by Blizzard’s own games. 1) World of Warcraft. Gear alone makes people play when gameplay is fun? Yes. 2) StarCraft BW/SC2. Fun gameplay makes long-term addiction without “meaningful” high-end “customization mechanic”. 

      • I guess leveling up doesn’t count as character improvement…

  39. First, i will buy CE for sure
    now, i’m not sure to buy even SE and play.

  40. Honestly, the old system as skill \items\ was broken due to maintenance and management.  However, the excitement of finding the perfect rune for your desired skill is now obliterated into simply clicking a button.  In my opinion, they should have created skills as consumable items.  This rewards players for playing longer to find their desired runes, and an added achievement for collecting all low to high end runes.  At level 60 you could have two completely different wizards just based on the skills they have available.  Now at lv60, every wizard is the exact same!  Just spend a few hundred bucks on the auction house and call it a day.

  41. How anyone can look at this system and consider it a loss of customization is beyond me. Let’s look at the pros and cons of the new system vs the old item based system:
    -runes no longer take up inventory space which is limited to begin with due to the reduced stash size and character limit.
    -removes the dead-zone of skill progress between lvl 30 and 60
    -(debatable) you no longer have to farm/buy a set of runes for each character you make in order to gain access to his full skill range (if you want more of a skill based system and less of a money/luck/farm system this is a huge plus)
    1. loss of customization
    2. loss of the sense of achievement
    Now let’s take a look at the cons.
    1. One can argue that this leads to a loss of customization but consider the alternative. In order to make runes a factor in customization you would need to make them rare enough so that not everyone could get all of them easily. Which would force people to do one of two things: buy them off of the auction house or go without them and thus not have access to their characters full potential. Neither of those is fun or desired if you want a fluent “skill” based game. Diablo is all about the loot… but gimping a characters access to skills unless they are rich or lucky is not a worthwhile sacrifice imo. Alternatively you could make the drop rate decent but then you are deluding yourself in thinking that a semi-hardcore player would not have access to all his runs at max lvl after a couple of days/weeks etc of farming… which really negates the whole customization argument.
    2. Which leads to the second counter argument. The loss of the sense of achievement. Like I said before, Diablo is all about the loot. Removing runes as an item does indeed reduce the sense of achievement in that it reduces the amount of stuff you need to horde. But the alternative is again way less appealing. Make them rare and have people kicking themselves in the nuts over not being able to try a specific build because they can’t afford or don’t have the time/luck to find that super rare rune. Make them hard to find but attainable for all… in which case everyone will eventually be able to find or buy them off of the auction house (if this would still give you a sense of achievement I’m afraid your standards for “achievement” are very low) or make them common and again negate the sense of achievement. Personally I get more achievement out of kicking the stuffing out of someone I know has access to the same skill set I do rather then someone who might be hobbled by luck/time investment. But that’s just me.
    Imo… good change… could the system be improved? Of course… any system can… we’re fucking human and it’s impossible to please everyone. But I think they chose the lesser of two evils.

  42. I like this, it’s not the second coming of Christ, but I like it.

    Admittedly I was about to fume at that part Jay predicted me to fume but then reading on and everything was fine again. 😛

  43. the conspirator in me thinks they took out runes as physical items as they would replace gold almost totally as currency. resuming their role from D2lod.

  44. I don’t play WoW, I never did and never will. The only Blizzard games I play are Diablo 1 and Diablo 2. Last few beta patches produced more negative feelings in me than this one. For once, I’m actually happy having tons of items in my inventory rather than having mules for runes.

    They removed the rune ranks, but with unlocking the specific rune we already got it’s maxed potential (saves the time farming the higher runes if they would stay as items). The only downside (although you could not call it a flaw) is not having the choice of choosing skill rune we want. But then again let’s face it: you could play through game from normal to inferno and never find for example Crimson rune Rank 6 and you’re forced to spend gold or bucks buying it from AH thus reducing your buying capability for some cool items. That way the game will be more focused on items and their collection/buying/selling which is the core of the Diablo games.

    So while most of people rage about this patch, I (who is a dedicated Diablo fan) am actually satisfied with the new changes. 🙂

  45. I’ve never understood that rage against causal players…
    Blizzard wants to make a game that is accessible to a lot of people and still please the ‘hardcore’ fans; it’s common sense to attempt to have your product reach as many potential customers as possible, and no one can justifiably claim otherwise. 

    For me, personally, games like Skyrim have died a slow death. I look at the scope of them and have to realize that I will never be able to get anywhere in the time I have available to play on a normal working day. On top of that, if I haven’t played it for a while, it’ll take me ages to work out where I was and what I was going to do, effectively reducing the active playtime available.  I have always loved the idea of Diablo allowing you to play for half an hour here and there, and you still feel you’re getting somewhere. When you come back, you just have to quickly check your questlog or waypoints to know where you left off and you’re back on track.

    Skill runes gone as an actual item – just one less itemtype to worry about, to be honest; yeah, I can see it’s super cool to finally get that rune you’ve been killing demons for an eternity to get, but I can also see how un-cool it is when you don’t get it. Drops are exciting early in the game, because everything is a potential upgrade, but as you start to refine what kind of gear you’re looking for, the pool of exciting items suddenly drop dramatically. If what you want is that fabled two-handed sword of uber awesome pwnage, no mace dropping will ever make you feel happy – instead of it being ‘Hey, a cool mace just dropped!’, it becomes ‘Bah, that sword didn’t drop again..’ – having that trend with equipment is more than enough.  

    • “I’ve never understood that rage against causal players…”

      It’s simple: game being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.

      “Skill runes gone as an actual item – just one less itemtype to worry about, to be honest” 

       That’s the thing. You are not supposed to “worry” about items. You are supposed to collect them, look for them, and be happy when you come across one as a drop.

      • “It’s simple: game being dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.”
        I wonder how different the world would be had the Bible never been translated into English.

  46. I’ve been mostly annoyed by all the changes and delays and explanations for each . . . but this is the best Jay Wilson has come across to me ever – and I don’t usually like hearing him and reading his thoughts.  I like these changes – they seem well thought out.  I never really liked the ranked runes anyway.  I liked that there were different colors and the level 1 runes looked cool as items – but the ranking system jus always looked clumsy to me.  All those different chassi that the runes sat in just seemed unnecessary (and not as cool or as simple as gems).  I also like how they’re exposing the “mouse skills.”

    We still have gems (a LOT more than we did in D2) and the itemized rune system was way different than D2 anyway.  The runewords in D2 were unique, weird, challenging – and frustrating because of the difficult trade system (how the hell do I get an “UM” rune when I need it?) and the fact that non-ladder players couldn’t use certain words.  Personally, once I got to level 30 I stopped putting gems and runes in my sockets because I was always holding out for the perfect runeword or gem.  Remember, once you filled that socket, THAT WAS IT.  You had to make it count, so instead of filling the sockets I’d just keep doing Baal runs in Hell.  And that became more fun, and I forgot about the runes and filling my unfilled sockets.

    I still play D2.  In D3 they seem to want to make every system viable and necessary – not optional, not for the elite like they were in D2.  I know this bugs some people and I guess you can’t make everyone happy.  Many of you are saying this kills customization, but really it comes down to this: are there many builds?  Do the builds truly feel different?  And can each build be effective?  That’s pretty much it, and if the answer to those three questions is “yes,” then Diablo 3 wins.

    Oh, and I hate the Demon Hunter.  Lamest class idea ever.  Rapid fire Dual crossbows – but we won’t have guns because “that’s not Diablo!”  And the name?  Every character is a demon hunter.  Duh. 

  47. I liked the idea of runes as items, but I’m ok with these changes… What I really don’t like is the new rune graphic, the old colored bulbs were much more cooler and easy to read.

  48. I like it but it needs one significant change to be great – when I hit level 6 and a rune is unlocked, I get to pick WHICH of the 5 runes I want. If my intent was to have a build that depends on a skill’s Golden Rune effect, I shouldn’t have to what till level 53 till that rune is unlocked!

  49. I like this change. Playing a few hours a week and untwinked. Reading d2 builds with lots of stuff to buy is awfull. With these possibilities to buy stuff all become over-equipped so they had to put every good stuff really rare and other not enough powerful leaving the only untwinked choice to fishymancer. It means no customization at all.

  50. Obviously Jay took all the physical rune items and used them in his contest winning batches of chili.  That is why the rune system is now a function of the UI.  You didn’t need to make up such an elaborate story about changing the rune system, Jay!

  51.      This isn’t bad… certainly less grindy then the previous system.  

         But i think they could have kept runes as items too… and just make them drop as class specific runes, which you could use to unlock the skill runes for each skill, with each level needing more runes, 1 rune for lvl 6, 3 for the next one, 6 for the 3rd, 9 for the 4th and 12 for teh 5th… being consumable you wouldn’t keep them in your inventory for very long either… and you could choose which skills to rune first…    

       And once you unlock all the skills you can always join a game with low level characters and throw them some of the extra runes… that would really help with a sense of community imo. Obviously the drop rate would be high enough that runes wouldn’t be worth much for trading…      

  52. again less permament choices more noob friendly system. Also another hurt to the itematization – enchants, gems and nwo runes are out. Inventory space? what? just make runes non removable – easy.But no rather having system that requires some thinking and decision making we are looking at system where you can iterate your build till you are happy. It seems they dont care about played per player but are focused to be appealing largest customer base.
    Again top gamie developer company tookes  steps towards brainless console action games.

  53. So Blizz ruined the D2 75-99 clvl deadzone and I see 4 screens of your lamentation under the Jay’s topic, huh? 😆 😆 😆 😆 Blizz me if I’m wrong but after boring D2 boss-runs keeping Hell and Memphisto la visto as cold as never I stomped upon the uber tristram ground and see what D3 Inferno snickers could be – when you can get the same legendary item from Butch as from D the only thing matters is extra, special stuff reward. Say if I’m wrong or I would get the best loot from Butchy and gonna kill D once or twice for joy and end game 😆 😆 😆 I was wondering how itchy fingers you have got keeping the keyboard busy and you didn’t surprise me 😈 Look boyz, you cannot even dream how the playability of the polished and published Blizz game could be. How really strong are runes gonna be, would their variants keep changing the game mood and would they be served just in time? Blizz keep the hands on the card’s deck and could shuffle them very very hard. So whut you gonna do if they stuck the monsters’ abilities as never they do? Maybe some monsters could wipe some runes’ effects or dull them one level or two? Maybe items’ abilities could strenght the runes and maybe some monsters could block random item abilities, or corrupt items in minutes three times as normal so your prime weapon or armor is crushed? You have no prunky idea whut the game is gonna be about 😆 😆 😆 Jay’s runic system strenghts the plot’s gameplay up to ’60s – that’s for sure. Admit, that now you cannot say even if it could be better to reward the hero with runes between leveling as the XP gap between levels rises up or not 😉 😉 😉

  54. Cool, now there is no reason not to bring back socketable runes and runewords.

    • …other than how full of fail runewords were… they pretty much forced you to metagame to the point where memorizing the relative usefulness of words and runes for every class to be able to trade well felt like studying for an exam…

  55. The way I see it, the dev’s have always had the intention of DIII being first and foremost about the gear grind. By making the switch to skill runes being an ever present part of the UI that simply unlock, they have opened the door to further customization of particular skill rune effects via item affixes.
    Sure, 2 Barbs of the same level could, for example, have Leap Attack-Death From Above actively bound to LMB. However, one Barb might have a rare helm that grants Death From Above 20% additional damage and a 3 second cooldown reduction, while the other perhaps has a rare helm that changes Death From Above to Fire Damage that adds a 30% weapon damage DOT every second for 5 seconds. The variations on this theme are limited only by imagination and balance considerations.
    With this method, customization ultimately relies on items to truly make one character differentiate themselves from another of the same class. It also engenders the item grind at end game searching for that *perfect* skill rune affix. Not to mention spicing up the trading on the RMAH, since Bobby needs more shiny things to adorn his office.
    Is this something that is planned/being implemented? I don’t know. But I for one sure as hell hope so.

    • I like this idea. I don’t think there could be much in the way of skill customisation through items since that’s already what the skill runes are for – for example, changing from lightning to fire damage. But changes to things like resource cost, cooldowns etc might be brilliant – do I want a cheaper skill, or one I can use more often?
      By the way – is your avatar Nick-Nack??

  56. We can all sit here and weigh the pros and cons of the new rune system vs. the old one vs. some other variant we dreamed up.  To me, it’s simple – this is positive because….. (wait for it)….. BLIZZARD FINALLY MADE UP THEIR MINDS ABOUT IT!!  I, for one, am tired of people (both behind closed doors at Blizzard and forums) discussing what they think the rune system or any other part of the game for that matter should look like.  The fact is that every rune system you can come up with will have its benefits and drawbacks.  No decision Blizzard makes on this will please everyone – we’ve all got our own “rune utopia” that would be perfect for us, but others wouldn’t agree.  So can we all just be happy that they finally made a decision on the rune system so that maybe we can get the game and enjoy playing it???

    One thing is certain – this announcement is a SIGN OF RELEASE!!! 🙂 

  57. Here’s what the rune system should’ve been:

    * Runes now have affixes. This creates a charm-like feel from D2 where you have a large gap between terrible/great rune affixes.

    * Your character will have the affix bonuses of the six skills you have active at that moment. Any inactive skills do not grant their rune affix bonuses.

    * Rune ranks now cease to exist. Even with the affix system, nobody at the end game would consider using a rank 1-6 rune.

    * To replace the rune ranks, gear now has affixes that increase rune potency in the spirit of +skill levels in Diablo 2.

    * In conclusion, this would preserve the item hunting for runes, runes would be just as saturated/unsaturated as charm drops in Diablo 2, gear would have an increased pool of affixes with the +rune bonuses they would provide, and everyone is happy.

    Seems simple enough and I think 95% of the community would love this.

  58. I think the changes are soundly explained. It’s a lot more important to me that the fighting is fun than having a reminiscence of a diablo II feeling. I think it is obvious that the guys at Blizzard are at pains to make a great game and so I am unable to understand most of the “hate” you can read here.
    I’m not bought by these Blizz-Freaks, but I’m also not a complete pessimist.

  59. About the only thing that i was still looking forward to in this game has been cut. Seriously? What is Blizzard thinking…
    Runestones (now called skillrunes, even though there aren’t any runes to speak of anymore, good trolling there tards) were the staple of D3. It was the one thing that was going to make D3 unique and different. Sure, i wasn’t exactly agreeing upon making everything part of the item hunt, but i could see the appeal of finding a runestone and then being given the responsibility to attune it to one of your skills of choice. This was the one thing that would truly make all people character’s different to eachother (because just look at the different skill combo’s people came up with) in the early to mid run. This is completely gone now, every character of every person will be the exact same. There’s no sticking to WW anymore because that’s the skill you invested your runes in, nope, if Seismic Slam turns out to be the proverbial OP skill, then there’s no reason anymore not to simply change to SS on the go. “But nothing changed, before every character could still make use of all highest rank runes”, sure, let’s us disregard the reality of how many years it could have taken someone to really “have it all”. Now, the same will be achievable in months, dare i even say weeks. For the same reasonthe “3000” rune issue is a total NON-ISSUE because realistically speaking, who in the fuck is going to store each and every rank of each and every rune to each and every skill of each and every character? Who the fuck came up with this BS excuse? “Oh but people complained about the 30-60 deadzone”, so fucking what? Instead of devising something to make levels 30-60 more interesting (i don’t know, something as revolutionary as say statpoints? Just throwing something out here) they basically scrapped the one thing that made the game interesting, thus level 60 will be just as boring as level 5 was. What an amazing line of thinking there. Hey, i’m also complaining gems are more boring then other items. I know the solution, let us  eliminate all other items, voila, now gems are the most interesting items in this game. Can i come work at Blizzard now?
    This game will die out in a month. 

  60. The problem, is that they’re still catering for ‘special players’ who simply can’t understand what they’re doing when they click things in the game. If you can change your skills/skill runes in town, then there’s no point guiding a player, showing them how to play the class and forcing others who played previous versions to switch to elective mode. We’ll all learn by playing the game.
    Titan Quest just let you right click on a skill-slot and bam, choose your skill, don’t like the choice, goto the mystic and undo it. In D3, I now have to enable another option before I can play the game as Blizz are forcing my choices for me.  Since Blizz obviously don’t listen to its non-special player fan base. I hope they include an advanced or basic mode choice during installation, will save me a lot of check-box enable/disabling at this rate.

    Seriously, this news made my day.  May have been the highlight of my week!  Now the agonizing is over- instead of struggling with my decision to not buy D3, I can skip this game in peace and serenity.  The last big announcement before retail launch is not a new system or major overhaul, but taking one of the last few things out of the game.  How symbolic of the whole development of D3.  And if you think that the elimination of skill ranks and affixes from skill runes is not taking something out of the game, I don’t know what to say to you.  It is.  And it’s removed to eliminate an inventory management problem?  Instead of making a inventory management system that seperated out the runes, and allowed them to be sorted by rank or type, etc…. because that would be innovating and improving on what came before.  Can’t have that…
    I sincerely hope that y’all don’t buy this game.  If you love Diablo, you will not buy this game.  That’s the only way Blizzard will learn they were wrong in their development and approach to this game, and it’s the only way they’ll change for the better moving forward.  True fans of the Diablo franchise will not buy this game.

  62. Sigh .. while reading the article you start feeling like this change is justified .. but after you finish and sit there for a few minutes pondering about it .. it strikes you as the worst choice made so far regarding D3 since the removal of skill points (which was the point i started getting worried D3 is really getting struck with the simplification hammer not getting streamlined in a meaningful way like i thought) .. why !!?

    And Before i get into the horrific details .. what happened is a game design atrocity because it simply takes away content from the player and forcefully spreads it over 60 levels of progression and worst of all in super strict linear fashion .. it’s like taking you delicious double Big Mac sandwich and cutting down its contents to make 20 small sandwiches and then limiting you to eating ONLY one of them every day .. ONLY one .. and they choose it for you too .. would anyone buy or eat THAT instead of a typical BIG MAC .. NO WAY.

    Now enough about hamburgers and let’s get into the thick of things.
    let me explain in detail:-

    1-First grave mistake is removing runes from item/drops system, the excuse was it was too clunky and item management was too un-fun, not true .. this could have simply been solved by making a specific item box/tab for runes in the inventory and stacking runes with similar type and level (i.e all lv.3 Indigo runes are stacked like arrows or bolts or scrolls) .. so if we had 5 runes x 7 levels for each .. all we needed would have been a box/tab with 35 small spaces, big deal .. in return we get to keep runes as part of the item system and part of the random drops (which is what Diablo is all about) .. imagine the joy you would have finding a very rare lv.7 golden rune during an intense gameplay session on Inferno diff after defeating a tough mob .. you excitingly teleport to town and start wondering which skill could use that rune best and start testing things around and fiddle with different skills and stuff .. alas .. all that is gone down the drain for some unreasonable excuse .. the added stat bonus to skill runes should have been removed too (i.e golden rune randomly adding +5 HP for example) because it would have prevented stacking .. it isn’t an excuse either.

    A bigger shocker .. if that excuse was in any way true .. we will be seeing gems removed from the game very soon because managing 6 types of gems with 15 levels each is way more cumbersome than managing 5 rune types with mere 7 levels .. lols .. no more gem drops boys and girls .. now you just have to take the item you like and go the blacksmith to upgrade it .. who wants interesting/rare drops in this game anyway 😈

    2-Removing player’s ability to invest, personalize or specialize in a certain aspect .. completely (that was the last straw) .. simply put .. choosing to invest in a certain field or aspect of a character is at the core of an RPG .. now with removal of skill runes, skill points, stat points (which could have been useful if the stats actually were meaningful .. check Demon’s Souls to see what i mean) there is very very very little space for the player to invest in anything .. actually there is NOTHING left to invest or specialize in .. everything unlocks when the developers want it to (Linearity FTW) and everything levels up when the developers want it to .. so you just have to pick whatever is thrown at you and use it .. you can’t CHOOSE to invest in a specific skill, you can’t choose to TAILOR it whenever you want .. NO you CAN’T .. now even specific runes unlock based on your level .. say you -innocently- wanted to use Golden rune with your Whirlwind skill at lv.30 .. too bad .. you have to wait until you get to lv.60 to do that (WTH !!?) and not only that .. once you do .. you will be like every other freaking Barbarian who reached lv.60 (who will probably be using the same skill with the golden rune as he/she have been using the other runes -just like you exactly- before reaching this point in the game) .. so you can’t even choose when to unlock which rune .. NO .. developers will decide that for you son .. you incompetent fool.

    Ok .. bigger shocker .. if this keeps going on .. we might as well end up with most items, gems, recipes being linearly unlocked at certain levels .. no need to go looking for anything .. no need to invest or specialize or differentiate yourself .. that’s just too old fashioned XD

    3-So .. now skill runes are no longer items (waiting for gems to follow lead .. too cumbersome to manage .. what a headache :wink:) and you can’t select which runes to use with which skills anymore until you reach level 60 (and to add to the insult .. once you are there .. everyone is exactly 100% like you in terms of skills and skill runes they can use) .. how could it possibly get worse .. hmmmm …. by using excuses to justify this change that could have been dealt with in a completely different way that didn’t daamge the game like they did .. first is the 30-60 dead zone .. sigh .. really !!! because there is nothing else to use for this .. where is the creativity !!? .. where are all the other systems in the game !!? .. ok .. i’ll give it a try .. let’s see .. they used the (random bonus on skill rune prevents runes from stacking) excuse to remove runes as items from the game because they take a lot of space .. sigh .. why not remove that bonus, return runes as stackable items (with their own tab) and bring back the (charms + talisman) .. problem solved .. skill runes can stack if all runes from same type and level are identical .. and players get a system to fiddle with from lv.30 to lv.60 .. some will say but this isn’t really new content .. well .. even if it isn’t .. it is 300% better than taking away content that was available to the player at any time and spreading in forcefully over 60 levels of progression (that’s just plain WRONG in every way possible), with charms and the Talisman back (Talisman unlocks at level lv.30) there will be lots of room for experimentation, specialization and personalization (things that are now completely missing from the game or at best superficial compared to what they could have been), and Talisman bonuses need to be creative too .. not just the typical (+5 HP) stuff, for example (and if you don’t like the example don’t hold it against me, i’m just trying to be creative :wink:)
    Talisman Charms idea –> Talisman board has 3×3 at lv.30 .. progresses to 6×6 at lv.60, now you just don’t place charms haphazardly, no .. you actually have to give it a little thought (*Gasps* .. oh my god) .. charms from links between them when placed adjacent to certain other charms .. there are 5 charm types (A-B-C-D-E for simplicity .. and they affect HP, DEF, MELEE, MAGIC and last type is misc) and no levels or grades .. just good old random affixes on them .. the catch is .. type (A) gives a +5 HP bonus when placed adjacent to type (B) or type (C), (B) gives +5 DEF when placed near (E) or (D) .. and so on … but it doesn’t stop there .. certain charms affixes work when they gain a certain bonus from adjacent runes .. ex .. if (A) gets +10 HP bonus from adjacent runes it causes +5 HP regen to character per second if you are interested in it you will have to figure out how to maximize this bonus and get more of this specific charms .. and given it is random this won’t be easy XD .. so this simply opens a flood gate of customization and fiddling around and gives you tons of stuff to do instead of taking away stuff from you .. and all this could be simply explained in tool-tips (only in advanced ones, hopefully those won’t be removed too) and through the Talisman interface.

    BIGGER SHOCKER .. if this simplification mentality keeps affecting the game i simply will change my mind about buying it .. and i almost have every Blizz game and have been supporting D3 until it was struck with the simplification hammer recently (right around when they removed skill points) .. so this is a very hard choice for me .. the “they are going to buy it anyway” charm isn’t working anymore on me (and many others) Blizz .. someone give them a wake-up call.
    PS: i know the Bigger Shocker section is exaggerated .. it is meant to be so to get the point through.
    (And note this is coming from someone who has been called a Blizz fanboy for supporting them on many decisions before, i’m not the type that just keeps whining after every freaking change in the game .. but with this one i couldn’t help it .. this change is just wrong on so many levels).

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